First edition
(1908 - 1998)
aka Monica Blake and Barbara Hale

Page updated 10th September, 2011.

Brief Bio | Books in published order | TORRIDON series

KETTLE Books | REVIEWS | Page editor

Children's Press edition

Just ONE page on the Collecting Books and Magazines web site based in Australia.

MARIE MUIR was born in and attended school in England. At the time of writing these books in the 1960s, she lived in Scotland on a bay in the Firth of Forth. According to the jacket blurb on a 'Kettle' book, she had written short stories and romances, but "enjoyed writing for children because they share her love for adventure, animals and the open air."

THANKS to Jim Mackenzie, Jane Webster and Craig Statham for additional information. 
We would greatly appreciate further biographical information on Marie Muir. 

Further details not yet incorporated follow.
I am the Local History Officer for East Lothian and have some information that you may find useful. .... / I believe Marie Muir had two pseudonyms. As well as Monica Blake she also wrote as Barbara Kaye. This I got from her obituary (incidentally written by no less than Nigel Tranter). .../ Marie Muir also helped create the only index (so far) for the gravestone monuments in Aberlady Churchyard. / The bay in which she lived was Aberlady Bay.
[Later ...] Born in Yorkshire. Came to Scotland and married Thomas Muir, a novelist. After his death she moved to Edinburgh then East Lothian. She was, for many years, secretary of the Scottish Centre of International PEN (Poets, Essayists and Novelists). / I have heard that she also had a further pseudonym - Jean Scott, but I have not been able to confirm this.
Kind regards

Craig Statham

Books in Order of Publishing (as per British Library)
Laird of Castle Croy, Amalgamated Press: London, 1949.
Dear Mrs. Boswell, Macmillan & Co.: London, 1953.
Leezie Lindsay, Macmillan & Co.: London, 1955.

Children's Press

First Edition

First Edition

First Edition

1. Torridons' Triumph 1960
Torridons' Surprise 1961
3. Torridons in Spain 1962
Torridons in Trouble 1963

Illustrated by Joseph Acheson. (1st editions)
Published by Collins.


1. Pam, Pot and Kettle 1964
2. Kettle's Great Adventure 1965

Illustrated by Joan Calver.
Published by Collins.

First edition

Children's Press edition

First edition

The Browns of Bencraig ... Illustrated by Douglas Relf. Harrap & Co.: London, 1967. (One of the `Flying Foals' Books)
Princess of Mexico, Dent Lon 1968 (The one Jane refers to ?)
Captive of the Sun, Hale Lon 1972 (Or perhaps this one ?)
The Mermaid Queen 1978 – based on the life of Mary Stuart
The Cup of Froth 1980

Written as Monica Blake
Is this her pseudonym for her adult romances ?
Hidden Heritage 1968
Pelham's Folly 1977
The Dark Horseman 1977
Austrian Romance 1978
Pool of Love 1978
Venetian Dream 1979
Come in from the Dark. 1982


Torridons' Triumph, first published 1960, reprinted as a 'Seagull' edition in 1967.
Torquil, Jan and Ivor Torridon have the responsibility of running the family boat yard business in Kilmodan, Scotland, while their father is sick in hospital. There great love is 'Cormorant', a fine yacht which they hope to use to save the business, hiring it out to rich tourists. Torquil, the oldest lad, will crew the yacht while Jan will run the house. Ivor, the youngest, is left to teach possible young arrivals how to sail in a small dinghy. Two rich American girls arrive, Lucilla, tall, slim, pretty and hungry for male company, and Ruth, lame and introspective. But appearances can be deceptive. And so begins a wonderful story which features characters so real you expect them to step out of the book. The Scottish locale which the author obviously knows so well doesn't intrude. Instead it and the many characters you meet dovetail together into an easy to read, interesting and thought-provoking tale. There is humour, pathos and everything you could possibly want in a children's book. Highly recommended. # j 4.01

Torridons' Surprise, first published 1961
Jan is sent off to a family in Vienna to further her worldliness and is befriended on the plane by an spoilt American boy. Much to her surprise she begins to enjoy her time with the Remmer family but the lad reappears, causing no end of trouble. Fortunately, Ruth, now living in Paris, arrives to spend time with Jan. They all befriend the lad's mother and he is eventually, much to Jan's horror, sent back with her to Kilmodan, in order to straighten him out. Who is the mysterious movie scriptwriter back in Scotland? The second book in the series, and just as good as the first, with 'a clash of personalities' beautifully orchestrated by this excellent author. Another top recommendation. # j 12.03

Torridons in Trouble, first published 1963
Jan finds herself in Venice, a proposed sailing trip around the Greek Islands having come to naught. Before long she's on her way back to Scotland in the 'care' of a recuperating American woman. It soon seems that her world is going to come crashing down around her, owing to a scheming developer, the woman she's befriended and the latter's son. Even Commmander Torridon's life seems about to change! I've keep this brief as to expand this piece into a proper review would spoil the story for those who've not read this relatively hard to locate book, the final (sob!) in the 'Torridon' series. For those who've come to identify with Jan, this book will take you inside her as no other juvenile book has ever done with a character, in my experience. So much happens in this story that one almost requires a chart to follows the actions of the many characters. A top recommendation. # j 8.02

Pam,Pot and Kettle (Collins Seagull Library)
"Savige Dog Keep Oot"
These are the words that greet ten year old Pam when she arrives at her Aunt Morag's house near the village of Ardshiel in the Highlands of Scotland. It's just the first of the threats that Pam meets during the course of this engaging little story. From the moment she wakes up to find that her holiday in Austria has been cancelled everything seems to go wrong for the little girl. Her father, a lawyer, has to look after an important client in a crucial case and her mother won't let her travel anywhere by herself. Only a letter from her eccentric relation in Scotland promises some adventure to snatch her away from the boredom of summer holidays in London.

But Aunt Morag is ill and the last letter she wrote is full of mystery. Pam and her mother head north to offer help. Somehow Pam ends up alone in the lonely cottage with a wild dog penned up in a little shack and an even wilder little boy with red hair and a dirty face who claims his name is Kettle and that Aunt Morag's cottage is his "hoose".

How the two children get to know each other and how Pam makes friends with Pot, "the savige dog" is followed by a description of their attempts to look after themselves and the host of stray and injured animals that Morag dedicates her life to saving. You might be forgiven at this point for imagining that this is going to become a book of pretty straightforward sweetness and light. You would be wrong. The dark side of life and of people's personalities is about to be unleashed. Brooding in the background is the reaction of the village children to fact that Kettle is an outsider and a tinker or gypsy. Even worse is the prospect of Kettle's uncle, a man renowned for his drunkenness and brutality. When Kirsty-from- the-village breaks her leg and the last responsible adult disappears from their lives, Pam, Pot and Kettle find themselves in real danger. Throw in the risk of arson and the last ride of an old banger and you have the ingredients for a story that would be both interesting and frightening for the 9 to 11 year olds that Marie Muir had presumably chosen to be her target audience.

Written over 40 years ago, this book remains timeless in its treatment of themes of loneliness, identity, courage and belonging. The sequel is already clearly in the mind of the author as she brings this interesting little story to an end. # jmackenzie48@yahoo.com 5.01

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